PETER Houston saw one goal transform the Hampden atmosphere from anger to ecstasy during his Scotland reign as assistant to Craig Levein – and insists a win is the only thing that matters against Lithuania this weekend.
Gordon Strachan’s side opened their World Cup qualifying campaign in impressive style against Malta last month, with the free-scoring 5-1 success raising hopes of the nation finally making it back to another major tournament.
The expectations have also been ratcheted up a notch for the arrival of Lithuania, who the Tartan Army will be eager to see swept aside on Saturday night.
However, Houston knows from his own experience that rarely do things go quite so smoothly, even against the weakest of opponents.
Scotland needed a headed winner from Stephen McManus nearly a full seven minutes into injury-time to rack up a win over lowly Liechtenstein in Levein’s first competitive game at Hampden in 2010.
The match came just four days after an uninspired goalless draw away to Lithuania and Houston has stressed the importance of bagging the three points – even if the performance does dip below par.
The Falkirk boss said: “Every team brings its own problems. Lithuania will sit in and defend and the onus will be on Scotland to take the game to them.
“I think a lot of people got a big lift from the Malta game, from the performance and scoring five goals, and it should give all the players in the squad a lot of confidence.
“But If they win 1-0 on Saturday then I’ll be delighted, whether they’ve played well or not.
“For me, it’s about getting three points, and I’m sure it will be for the manager and the players as well. It’s great when you play well, but the most important thing is the victory.
“Fans like to see their team playing well but the most important thing is the team winning, and I don’t think the Scotland fans are any different.
“That win against Liechtenstein was like winning a really big game. Stephen McManus popped up and it was sheer relief.
“The noise from the stadium changed from catcalls, as you can imagine – and naturally there were, I’m not knocking that – to sheer elation.
“That’s what football matches are like sometimes and I think everybody has got to recognise that – it’s all about winning.”